Mad Hatter’s Tea Judges And Categories Announced Friday Evening At Cicada Before Adjourning To The Mansion

It’s rare that you have an announcement party on a Friday evening, but Mad Hatter’s Tea chairs Barbara Daseke and Carmaleta Whiteley promised it would be a quickie at Cicada in Snider Plaza — exactly one hour, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Oops, it didn’t work out that way. The guests were still there at 7:15.

The reason for the gathering was the announcement of the judges, categories and retailers involved in the April 12 “The Art of Nature” show-and-swell hatfest presented by Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers at the Dallas Arboretum. This year’s luncheon/fashion show is expected to attract 600 chapeau-wearing ladies and gents with runway fashions provided by Forty Five Ten, Cicada, Betty Reiter and V.O.D.

Sharon Ballew and Carmaleta Whiteley

Carmaleta had to make the announcements solo. Seems her co-chair Barbara had a flat tire and was stuck elsewhere and Honorary Chair Nancy Rogers was MIA. Luckily Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden President Sharon Ballew was standing in the wings supporting Carmaleta.

This year’s judges come with blue-ribbon credentials from the art world, since the theme focuses on “The Art of Nature.” They will include

  • Lita Asscher, President, Royal Asscher® Diamonds — Born in Amsterdam, Holland, Lita Asscher is President of Royal Asscher® of America and heiress to the world famous Asscher diamond dynasty. Her ancestors were responsible for such eminent achievements as the creation of the original 1902 Asscher Cut diamond, and the cutting of the largest diamond ever found, the 3105 carat Cullinan diamond for Great Britain’s Crown Jewels. Royal Asscher® is jeweler to the crown of many nations; the company has a legendary European heritage and an exclusive clientele of international royalty and celebrities.
    Brenda Bogart, artist, is blessed with an abundance of creativity as well as the talent and know-how to express it in many ways. She spent a number of years in interior design and was also the owner of an enormously popular children’s clothing business. In 2006 she picked up her paintbrush and began painting in earnest, exploring a range of themes in oil on canvas.
    Kenneth Craighead and partner, Steve Green, opened Craighead Green Gallery in 1992 in the Uptown Dallas Arts District. They relocated the Gallery to Dragon Street in the Design District. Craighead Green is recognized as one of the finest contemporary art galleries throughout Texas and the Southwest, representing over 40 artists of all mediums.
  • Billy Fulmer, Patricia Meadows and Shane Walker

    Patricia Meadows, President of Art Connections — Curator, consultant, juror, speaker, advocate for contemporary art and artists.

  • Gail Sachson, MFA, has been a cheerleader for the arts in the area ever since 1978, when she founded ASK ME ABOUT ART, an educational service offering lectures, programs , writings and consultation. Sachson serves on a myriad of arts related and educational Boards of Directors, teaches “50 Reasons to Love Dallas” through  SMU/CAPE, blogs for KERA’s ART & Seek and is a Dallas Commissioner of Cultural Affairs  and a member of the Dallas Public Art Committee.
  • Jeremy Strick, Director of the Nasher Sculpture Center since March 2009. Jeremy oversees collections, exhibitions, and operations at the 2.4-acre facility located in the heart of downtown Dallas’ Arts District. Opened in 2003, the Nasher Sculpture Center is home to one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of modern and contemporary sculpture in the world, formed largely by the late Raymond and Patsy Nasher. Previously, Strick served nearly ten years as Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA).

Disappointing news was that earlier-announced Bonnie Pitman had to withdraw from the judging duties due to health issues.

This year’s categories include:

  • Gents Top Hats: Diamonds in the Rough
  • Most True to Theme: Organically Chic
  • Botanical: Nature’s Bounty
  • Most Whimsical: Florals’ Follies
  • Most Elegant: Nature’s Glamorous Jewels
  • Best of Show: Horticulturally Hip
  • Most Outlandish:  Mother Nature’s Humor

Steve Kemble

When word started making its way through the crowd including Steve Kemble, Shane Walker and Billy Fulmer that the party would continue at the Mansion for post-party drinks, the place began to empty. That is, except for Doris Jacobs, who had to join husband Jack at Cafe Pacific to celebrate his birthday.

And then there was Jan Strimple, who will be producing the Mad Hatter’s Tea fashion show. She was still having fun checking the clothes on the racks.




  1. carmaleta whiteley says:

    Thank you My Sweet Charity for your fabulous report on the Cicada Party. It was a fun evening made even more special by having My Sweet Charity attend and report our announcements. We are honored to have so many wonderful people involved this year.
    It is going to be the best Mad Hatter’s Tea ever!

  2. My Sweet Charity does SO MUCH GOOD! for Dallas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love! love! LOVE!!!!!!!!! EVERYTHING! they write! Where! OH! Where! Would we be without My Sweet Charity!!!

    • Jeanne Prejean says:

      I think the real question is, “Where would we be without Steve Kemble?” Answer: A very dreary Dallas. 🙂

  3. Shane Walker says:

    The party was so much fun! Thank you Jeanne for the fabulous photo. See you at the Mad Hatter’s Tea event.